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4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  3,807 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
From instant celebrity at age 23 to alcoholic loner by mid-life, Truman Capote streaked across the middle of this century on a comet of genius, self-destruction and fame. Drawing on interviews with Capote and with nearly everyone who knew him, and with exclusive access to personal papers, Gerald Clarke has written the definitive biography of an incomparable man and his tim ...more
Paperback, 632 pages
Published April 8th 1989 by Ballantine Books (first published 1988)
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Paul Bryant
May 23, 2015 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Usually biographies begin with the more dutiful, laboured and frankly tiresome parts – the family background, the growing up, the education, the roots and the shoots, great author as 10 year old, etc. I always want to get past all that to the start of the action. Capote is a complete exception. The family circumstances, the growing up, the odd microscopically small place that TC grew up in, (which also produced another great novelist, how strange can you get, Harper Lee), the Southern gothic tra ...more
Capote: Gerald Clarke's Literary Biography

It took me a hellishly long time to read this book. Of course, I was reading it in conjunction with a read of Capote's works at the same time. So, I would read a novel, or a few short stories, and I would take back up with Clarke's biography.

But that's rather an excuse. Because Capote's life is often not a pleasant subject--not from childhood up to his last days, lost in a fog of Vodka and drugs.

And I've taken a hellishly long time to absorb what I've re
Mikey B.
A very well written and extensive biography of the celebrated American author. Truman Capote was a very gregarious person and was always the life of any gathering or party (except towards the end of his life). When he traveled (whether to New York or Europe) it was not to take in museums or sites, but to meet the inhabitants – particularly if they were famous, wealthy and/or notorious.

As Mr. Clarke points out Truman Capote had a neglected upbringing – he was abandoned by both his parents and to
Aug 07, 2007 Greta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion the author assesses various aspects of his life appropriately, but leaves some areas grossly underrepresented or wrongly assessed. For a concrete example of this, Capote's adolescent experiences of being the victim of coerced sex by boys, is playfully written off as relatively innocent forays (spellcheck) into sexuality. Since when is coerced sex relatively innocent? I guess he's thinking boys will be boys. His experiences with a pedophile teacher, I felt, were also grossly underpl ...more
Nov 04, 2007 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
if you are going to read one book on capote, this is it--please excuse the hackneyed phrase, but it will make you laugh and cry. I honestly feel like i understand truman and i wish i wouldve known him. quote by Truman Capote from Conversations with Capote by Lawrence Gorbel:
"This man Gerald Clarke who's writing this book about me--do you know him? He's one of the lead writers at Time magazine. He's really a very good writer. His book, it better be fantastic, because he's worked on it for eight
Jan 10, 2010 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010january
Not surprisingly, Truman Capote knew hundreds of famous people.

And Gerald Clarke introduces every single one of them with a mini-bio of his or her own.

Unfortunately, Clarke doesn't use Capote's groundbreaking "nonfiction novel" technique in this biography. It often reads like a textbook, the chronology gets all out of whack and it never feels like a narrative.

Granted, he had an astounding amount of material to work with, including years of interviews with Capote and those closest to him. I have
This massive and comprehensive biography of Truman Capote was captivating. As a firm believer tat most biographies are enjoyable if one is a fan of the subject’s work, this book did no disappoint. Clarks’s intimate and detailed portrayal of Capote was certainly unbiased. Clarke held the mirror clearly for all to see Truman Capote’s genius, flaws, foibles, and his even darker side with narcissism, control, alcohol, and abuse. That Truman Capote came from a textbook example of a dysfunctional fami ...more
Hannah Kirchner
Nov 19, 2011 Hannah Kirchner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book broke my heart. The man had so much brilliance and too many "red devils."

His rise and fall seems so much like that of his mother Nina (on which the character Holly Golightly was partially based and with whom he had a love/hate relationship). Once he became well known in the 40s (more for who he was and what was anticipated he would do), he spent his recreational time social climbing until he had reached the top of the strata.

Like his mother, he had his face pressed against the window
It is very difficult to criticize any biography of Truman Capote. The man was a first class character and an excellent writer who managed to shape our literary culture in ways we are still talking about. Any biography written about him has to be interesting. It was a good read.

There were a few problems I had with the book, but I think I can attribute that to my own pickiness rather than the author's lack of knowledge or research. My complaints are mostly technical. I consider it a poor editor wh
Sep 10, 2012 Christine rated it really liked it
This is a great, engagingly written biography of a fascinating author and person. I do, however, wish I'd read all of Capote's works before reading this. Clarke gives away far too many spoilers for my taste. In the telling of the writing of many of Capote's works, Gerald Clarke gives away just about everything there is regarding plots, and even the endings.

If you've already read everything you intend to read by Capote, I highly recommend this biography. Capote lead an incredible - though not en
Feb 02, 2016 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
Very well written and supremely entertaining...just much too long. I gave up three quarters of the way through Truman Capote's life story. Gerald Clarke is a wonderful writer and held my interest with his smooth, story telling style. I just got bored and still had six hours of reading left on the Kindle version of this I borrowed from the library. Also, knowing how Capote's life unravels slowly into a haze of booze and drugs ending in his death, I may have just wanted to end on a lighter point i ...more
Kristine Stevens
May 30, 2013 Kristine Stevens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: people
The plushness of the details in this book rival one of Truman's velvet suits. I feel like I was a fly on the wall of his incredibly dramatic life. I rocket soared with him to the top of literary fame and glory and felt such sadness and frustration that his later years sank into such addiction and dysfunction. Very well written. The only downside: All those details created a very heavy book, but that I can happily deal with.
Apr 09, 2014 Margaret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
Currently, this is the best biography written about Capote. Could not put it down.
Oct 13, 2007 Núria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: amantes de Capote o de las anécdotas
No he leído muchas biografías, pero sí que he leído muchas biografías de Franz Kafka. Por esto puedo decir que esta biografía de Truman Capote es correcta, pero se queda a años luz de ser calificada de brillante. Quizás es porque tengo idealizada la biografía de Kafka de Reiner Stach, pero yo quiero que una biografía esté contada como si fuera una novela y que no se limite a contarnos los hechos, sino que también los analice, que se intente meter de verdad en la piel del biografiado para compren ...more
Aug 23, 2013 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(nb: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss)

After he published “In Cold Blood,” Truman Capote was the most famous writer in America, if not the world. Its novelesque telling of a true story received widespread critical acclaim, intrigued the countless readers who bought the book, and was turned into a successful Hollywood film.

This was also the apex of Truman Capote’s life. He’d been successful as a writer, and he’d made friends with his “swans,” a group
I have mixed feeling about this book, which is why I have given it a three star rating. If you are very interested in Truman Capote, then this is the biography to read. It is a very detailed and well-written book. If you have only a little interest, however, it may be overwhelmingly long. My husband got to page 374, and put it aside, asking me to tell him if he should finish it or not. Being only mildly interested in Capote, I found that I could only read the book for an hour to an hour in a hal ...more
Oct 04, 2014 Kathie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A recent email from Writers Digest asked readers to list the 10 books that 'stuck out' for them over the years; not good or bad, but the titles they most remembered. One of mine was "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote. The Clutter family in Kansas was killed on my birthday and Capote's book came out in 1966, I was 16. This book was made into the film "Capote" for which Phillip Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar. I liked the movie better. This was a long book, nearly 600 pages. Lots more about Capote I'm ...more
Dec 28, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Here's a long, gossipy biography you can really sink your teeth into. It makes me want to reread all Capote's books. Do I dare read In Cold Blood again? It gave me nightmares years afterward.

I love Truman Capote's writing style. He was an absolute literary genius who never got enough credit for his talent. I think because he was so commercial, and such a celebrity. He had beyond-movie-star status. The guy was one of the most powerful men in America for nearly a decade. Yet it was nev
Jun 28, 2009 Carole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't know why this guy fascinates me, but he does. When I've read a lot of books that I like by an author, I often begin to wonder what makes them tick! This book is probably the definitive biography of Capote but the addition of some slender volumes by Capote's family really fills in the gaps. The best is probably "The Southern Haunting of Truman Capote" by Marie Rudisill. She was his cousin and she takes the books he wrote on his childhood and then recalls the situation she feels influences t ...more
Burke Hodgson
Nov 16, 2014 Burke Hodgson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a surprisingly interesting and readable biography. I'm not a huge fan of Capote's skimpy literary output, but wondered how Scout's buddy Dill, a poor southern boy, became Truman Capote. After scrapping his feckless father, Truman Capote's mama married money --- lots of it --- and by the time he was 15 he was a rich little Yankee boy living in Manhattan with his folks. A born entertainer, at 19 he was tiny, beautiful, brilliant, outrageous, and the darling of fag hags Gloria Vandebilt and ...more
Oct 12, 2010 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a compicated and tragic figure. The book really has two Truman's, the pre In Cold Blood Truman who sounds like a wonderful person to be around, and the after In Cold Blood Truman who becomes a vindictive, vengeful drug and alcohol addicted Truman who hardly resembles the person in the beginning of the book. Even the tone of the book changes and the author makes it clear in the afterward that he began the book just before these changes started happening...that he witnessed the downward spira ...more
Mar 02, 2011 Ryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A good biography is worth the 500+ pages, and the time it takes to read it. The Gerald Clarke, biography of Truman Capote was worth every page turned, in my opinion. Capote was quite the character. I wish, wholly wish, I got to hob-knob along side him for a summer. To hear him laugh, snicker about the latest gossip and attend one of his parties. I have regret for something that is wholly impossible; to live near Capote and be able to experience his life, first-hand.

I could say a lot about this
Apr 09, 2016 Straker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compelling look at the popular writer and high society bon vivant which portrays him as a sympathetic yet willfully self-destructive figure. One serious caveat however is the nearly complete absence of any discussion of Capote's relationship with his childhood friend and fellow novelist Harper Lee. She appears only briefly in the narrative and Capote's reaction to the enormous success of To Kill A Mockingbird - far greater than anything he ever wrote, including In Cold Blood - goes unrecorded. ...more
Jul 22, 2009 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely well-researched and organized, and generally well-written, though occasionally it's hard to follow certain anecdotes or recurring figures because of the sheer volume of both. But, and I don't really think it's fair to blame Clarke for this, I find that I'm losing my enthusiasm for desriptive biographies. As fascinating a figure as Capote was, and much as Clarke does to recapture his escapades and describe the psyche that drove them, I didn't really feel much closer to understanding the ...more
Fer Morales Mora
Apr 17, 2013 Fer Morales Mora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compré este libro pues tenía muchísimas ganas de saber acerca de la vida de Capote, sin embargo pasaron dos años para que yo pudiera leerlo, pero valió muchísimo la pena leerlo, pues es un libro muy bien escrito, fácil de leer, entretenido. la vida de Truman Capote fue sin duda muy interesante, todas las cosas que vivió de niño lo llevaron a ser lo que fue y a escribir los libros que escribió, a pesar de estar rodeado por tanta gente y ser tan querido, era un hombre que se sentía solo, y ese vac ...more
Dana Gynther
A fast-paced, well-written biography of a very interesting-- if not somewhat pathetic-- man. Also a fascinating peek at the publishing world -- at least its darlings-- at that time. The idea that one could become a rising super-star after publishing a couple of short stories in women's magazines!

Hats off to the author, Gerald Clarke, who spent a lot of time with Capote and his cohorts the last decade of his life (ie, when he was an alcoholic social pariah) and managed to leave himself out of the
Jolinda Van
This was a graphic account of a gifted writer's slide into alcoholism. The first part of the book was early childhood years of Capote and his family. A great deal of the book dealt with his relationships, famous people of the times, a lot of society names that were quite well known in the mid 1900's. There is a chilling account of the time that he spent doing the research for and writing "In Cold Blood". The book was well written but ultimately sad and depressing and left me with a feeling that ...more
Nov 18, 2015 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Taking from both Capote and Clarke regarding their most famous tomes, if I had known how long this book was, I might not have read it. I picked it up on my Kindle with some mild interest and then became absolutely fascinated. I had no idea that the man behind "In Cold Blood" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" had such a fascinating and ultimately tragic life. Clarke's biography is so detailed that I feel like I know TC with intimate familiarity. I don't know if I can recommend this book to others nece ...more
Michael Flick
Obsessively detailed, Clarke had access to Capote himself (or as "himself" as Capote played it) and most of the people who knew him. But I come away from this book feeling that I really didn't know Truman Capote--maybe because he didn't ever really know himself. To Gerald Clarke's credit, I think Capote would have disappeared into ancient history by now except for this book and the motion picture based on it. The idea that Capote is enshrined with Marcel Proust under a café awning on Parnassus, ...more
Jun 28, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Man this is a good bio but you have to be patient- it's over 800 pages. It's worth it- you really get a sense of who Truman Capote was, and the period during the Kansas murders is intense but is not the most intense period. In fact, I'd say that AFTER writing the masterpiece In Cold Blood it was more difficult for Truman to come down from that acclaim- hence, Answered Prayers. Also, Truman had some fascinating friends (Babe Paley, Kennedys, etc), most of whom he never spoke to again after he wro ...more
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Gerald Clarke is a journalist and biographer.

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“All human life has its seasons, and no one’s personal chaos can be permanent: winter, after all, does not last forever, does it? There” 1 likes
“you understand much more about the value of a marriage when you’ve lost it,” 1 likes
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